WASHINGTON — Al-Qaida can be expected to attempt an attack on the United States in the next three to six months, senior US intelligence officials told Congress on Tuesday.
The terrorist organization is deploying operatives to the United States to carry out new attacks from inside the country, including "clean" recruits with a negligible trail of terror contacts, CIA Director Leon Panetta said. Al-Qaida is also inspiring homegrown extremists to trigger violence on their own, Panetta added.
The annual assessment of the nation's terror threats provided no startling new terror trends but amplified growing misgivings since the attempted Christmas Day airline attack outside Detroit, Michigan, that militants are growing harder to detect and moving more quickly in their plots.
"The biggest threat is not so much that we face an attack like 9/11. It is that al-Qaida is adapting its methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to detect," Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee.